In the past few days, the Italian Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci, speculated over the possibility of a stricter law on ecig and vaping outdoors. The CoEHAR Founder and the Director stepped in: “Let’s open a dialogue based on scientific evidence”
The timely intervention of the experts of the University of Catania and CoEHAR, prof. Riccardo Polosa and prof. Giovanni Li Volti, was essential to effectively deter the Italian Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci, from supporting an ineffective and unpopular public health line.
According to a legislative proposal circulated yesterday, the idea of the Italian government was to introduce new prohibitions on vaping and smoking in public places and outdoors.
This proposal basically put vaping and smoking on the same level, ignoring all the scientific evidence on the reduced harm potential of electronic nicotine delivery systems.
“This proposal is made on purely ideological and emotional grounds– so prof. Riccardo Polosa, Founder fo the CoEHAR –We must stop equating cigarettes that release thousands of toxic substances and tar with products without combustion that are much less toxic. Combustion free alternatives have proven to be 95% to 99% less toxic than conventional cigarettes and today represent the only real solution for a health policy that lacks a rational proposal for all those who are unwilling or unable to quit. Countries such as Great Britain, Japan, Sweden, Norway and New Zealand, where a health policy open to risk reduction has existed for years, are recording a collapse in the sales of conventional cigarettes and the eradication of smoking even among young people. In addition, the FDA, the most important health authority in the US, has recently approved the marketing of these products by clearing them as appropriate for the protection of public health. In Italy, how does this text intend to help those who want to stop smoking?”
Underlying the need to hear and evaluate the results of the scientific research, the CoEHAR Director, prof. Giovanni Li Volti: “There are 85 experts from every scientific field among the CoEHAR members and in a few years, thanks to the work of dozens of researchers and collaborations started with all over the world, we have managed to publish more than 130 in the most prestigious scientific journals smoking harm reduction studies. We have given Italy the primacy in world research on the subject. When will we be heard? ”.
This strong stance by two of the most influential authorities in the field of harm reduction, experts of the University of Catania, put the bases for a positive change in the minister’s statement. Today, the undersecretary of health, Marcello Gemmato stated that “this is a draft produced not under the impulse of the minister, but by offices of our structure. But it is not a shared activity that is currently on the political agenda”.
To conclude, prof. Riccardo Polosa reiterated his support to the activity of the Ministry of Health: “We are 100% with Minister Schillaci when he says that smoking is harmful and must be fought decisively. But we reiterate that the road of bans is ineffective and counterproductive. Extraordinary results can only be achieved by integrating the principle of risk reduction into existing anti-smoking policies”.